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Weekly Update 13-19 Sep 20

Clips on media/communication, national security, politics, sports, and pop culture worth knowing about in the days ahead.

At Provision Advisors, we prepare your team for the challenges, and 'what-ifs' you never thought you'd encounter--specializing in strategic communication planning, crisis communication, and media coaching for senior-level leaders and communicators. We look forward to hearing from you.

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Provision Participation

On this Roundtable episode of the Defense & Aerospace Report Podcast, sponsored by Bell, our guests are Dov Zakheim, PhD, former DoD comptroller, now with the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Gordon Adams, PhD, Non-Resident Fellow at the Quincy Institute, Mackenzie Eaglen of the American Enterprise Institute, Byron Callan of the independent equity research firm Capital Alpha Partners and Chris Servello, a founder of Provision Advisors (and Defense and Aerospace team member).

On this special Beat Tulane pregame episode we are joined by Bill Wagner of the Annapolis Capital to discuss the week's news and keys to victory.


Top Clips

By The NYT Ed Board

In the rearview mirror, the victories of a trailblazing feminist. On the road ahead, the threat of an entrenched and powerful minority.

The Justice leaves an enormous legacy, but Trump will nominate a successor.

By The WSJ Editorial Board The death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg Friday leaves the Supreme Court without its liberal leader, and the timing inevitably means a titanic fight over her successor that has uncertain and perhaps momentous implications for the national elections only 45 days away. A year of political shocks now has another one. Justice Ginsburg, who was 87, leaves an enormous legacy, and not only as the second female Justice who became a feminist hero. She was a legal force long before she became a judge, as the first tenured female professor...

The nation was divided enough already.

By Maureen Dowd, NYT

I used to feel pretty optimistic that the country would get through the Trump years intact. In 2016, America got mad — and went mad. This administration has unleashed so many fresh hells that a portrait of the last four years looks very Hieronymus Bosch. But the idea of this country is so remarkable; surely it could withstand one cheesy con man who squeaked in. Now we might have passed a point of no return. No matter who wins in November, can the harsh divisions abate?

By Max Boot, Washington Post

My heart is breaking today. Not just because of the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg — one of the great pioneers in American legal history — but also for what her death could portend: a further delegitimization of our already fragile political institutions. I hope against hope that the great justice’s passing does not worsen the crisis of our democracy. But I fear that it will.

By Eugene Scalia, for the Washington Post Much has been made of the friendship between Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died on Friday, and my father, the late Justice Antonin Scalia. I spent many hours with them — 9 p.m. to 1 a.m., to be precise, on many a New Year’s Eve. The New Year’s dinner tradition dated to the 1980s, when the two were judges on the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington. Some of the Ginsburg and Scalia children and grandchildren joined, with one or two other couples. Evenings began with champagne and opera playing in the Ginsburgs’ Watergate apartment; dinner was prepared by Justice Ginsburg’s husband, Marty, who some years served venison or boar from my father’s post-Christmas hunting trip. What can be learned from this celebrated friendship between justices?

In American life, virtually no opinion or thought exists outside the realm of partisan sorting. By Elliot Ackerman, NYT In the nearly 60 years since Eisenhower’s address, the term “industrial complex” has been used often to describe the self-justifying and self-perpetuating nature of various industries — medicine, entertainment and education, to name a few. But it is the political incarnation that we are most dangerously mired in now. Just as the military-industrial complex threatened to undermine democracy in Eisenhower’s time, the political-industrial complex threatens to undermine democracy in ours.

By Adam Taylor, Washington Post

President Trump defended his handling of the coronavirus pandemic during an interview with Fox News over the weekend, arguing that he took “tremendous steps” early in the outbreak, which “saved probably two or two and a half million lives.” But much of the world appears to think otherwise. In a new poll of 13 nations released Tuesday, a median of 15 percent of respondents said the United States had handled the pandemic well, while 85 percent said the country had responded poorly. The data, released by Pew Research Center, suggests that the international reputation of the United States has dropped to a new low in the face of a disorganized response to the novel coronavirus. The country leads the world in virus-related deaths.

The novel coronavirus pandemic has brought “herd immunity” to the public consciousness, kindling hope the phenomenon can help slow or even end the outbreak. Herd immunity refers to a large portion of a community developing a degree of immunity to a virus, thereby reducing person-to-person spread. As a result, the whole community gains protection, not just those who are immune.

Progress on global health and the worldwide economy has regressed, Gates Foundation report finds.

By Carmen Paun, Politico

In only half a year, the coronavirus pandemic has wiped out decades of global development in everything from health to the economy. Progress has not only stopped, but has regressed in areas like getting people out of poverty and improving conditions for women and children around the world, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation finds in its 2020 Goalkeepers report published Monday. Vaccination coverage, seen as a good indicator for how health systems are functioning, is dropping to levels last seen in the 1990s, it says.

By Larissa Zimberoff, Bloomberg

Smithfield Foods Inc. thought it was doing great. In the first quarter of this year, the pork giant’s earnings were up 190% over the same period in 2019. Then the pandemic hit, and the close quarters of meatpacking plants made them ideal places for the coronavirus to spread.

How to Push Back Against Beijing

By Aaron L. Friedberg, for Foreign Affairs The Chinese Communist Party’s initial mismanagement of the COVID-19 pandemic and its subsequent attempts to exploit the crisis have produced enduring problems for the rest of the world. But the CCP’s behavior has also helped clarify the threat that China poses to the security, prosperity, and well-being of other countries. Public opinion polls show that over 60 percent of Americans of both political parties now hold a negative view of Beijing’s leadership and intentions, and similar attitudes can be found across the democratic world. This heightened awareness of a shared danger creates an opportunity for the United States and its allies to formulate a new and more effective strategy for dealing with China.

By Andrew Bacevich, for Foreign Affairs In this year’s presidential election campaign, candidates have largely sidestepped the role of armed force as an instrument of U.S. policy. The United States remains the world’s preeminent and most active military power, but Republicans and Democrats find other things to talk about. Ever since the end of the Cold War, successive administrations have enthusiastically put U.S. military might to work. In the last three decades, the flag of the United States Army has accumulated 34 additional streamers—each for a discrete campaign conducted by U.S. troops. The air force and navy have also done their share, conducting more than 100,000 airstrikes in just the past two decades.

By David Ignatius, Washington Post

As evidence grows that the Trump administration is pressuring intelligence agencies to tailor their reporting for political purposes, the U.S. military is providing an unexpected and powerful line of defense. President Trump has tried to suppress discussion of Russia’s meddling on his behalf in the 2016 election and again in 2020. He has fired two directors of national intelligence who disagreed about it. And a whistleblower complaint alleges that his allies tried to stifle reporting about Russia this year at the Department of Homeland Security. But there’s a backstop: The U.S. Cyber Command is quietly pushing ahead with the effort it began two years ago to “defend forward” against Russian influence operations — which means getting inside Russian cybernetworks to detect and disrupt attacks.

Disinformation campaigns used to require a lot of human effort, but artificial intelligence will take them to a whole new level.

By Renée DiResta, for the Atlantic

Someday soon, the reading public will miss the days when a bit of detective work could identify completely fictitious authors. Consider the case of “Alice Donovan.” In 2016, a freelance writer by that name emailed the editors of CounterPunch, a left-leaning independent media site, to pitch a story. Her Twitter profile identified her as a journalist. Over a period of 18 months, Donovan pitched CounterPunch regularly; the publication accepted a handful of her pieces, and a collection of left-leaning sites accepted others.

Pew Research Service

Donald Trump supporters pose for a selfie before a rally on Nov. 1, 2016, in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania. (Mark Makela/Getty Images)Supporters of Donald Trump and Joe Biden are divided not just in their views of the two presidential candidates and in their broader political beliefs and values. They are also largely divided in their personal relationships: Roughly four-in-ten registered voters in both camps say that they do not have a single close friend who supports the other major party candidate, and fewer than a quarter say they have more than a few friends who do, according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted in July and August.

By Sara Fischer, Axios

A number of media companies, especially with audiences that skew female, are replacing top white editors with people of color. Why it matters: A slew of top editors were forced to step down from their positions this summer after the #BlackLivesMatter movement and protests sweeping the nation forced media companies to reckon with their own shortcomings on diversity.

By Orion Rummler, Axios

President Trump said he would sign an executive order on Thursday to "promote patriotic education" through an effort called the 1776 Commission, while denouncing a New York Times' project that investigated the impacts of racial injustice for Black Americans.

By Ron Ashkenas, Harvard Business Review In the past few months, we’ve seen a stark contrast between the modest pace of typical change management projects and the rapid innovation that is stimulated by a crisis. Take, for example, a large retailer that in 2018 began working on the concept of curbside pickup as a way to reinvigorate deteriorating sales. The company launched a well-planned change initiative to introduce the concept across functions and to counter passive resistance. Leaders built a business case, sketched out the vision, mobilized stakeholders, created metrics for success, and started a pilot. But after 18 months there still was not much enthusiasm or action toward developing the new offering. Then in 2020 the coronavirus forced the company’s stores to close, and, within a matter of days, curbside pickup was implemented across its locations.

By Judith Humphrey, Fast Company If you’re one of the many people who feel you work for a tough or unlikeable boss, you are not alone. According to a recent 15Five report, one-third of all employees would be relieved to hear that their managers were leaving the company. And managers would be the first to admit they aren’t perfect. According to the same report, 75% of managers would like more training in how to be a good boss.

Being liked is fleeting. Here's what matters more

By Deborah Grayson Riegel, for INC

There's nothing wrong with wanting to be liked at work. According to Tim Sanders, author of The Likeability Factor: How to Boost Your L-Factor and Achieve Your Life's Dreams when your colleagues, direct reports and bosses like you, you have a better chance of getting promoted, being assigned special projects that interest you, having people go above and beyond for you, getting timely responses and feedback, and having the kind of social capital that you draw on to get what you want and need from others.

The next time a friend has a startup idea, consider this tack instead.

By Jeff Haden, INC

When asked, Jeff Bezos's boss at a hedge fund tried to discourage him from resigning to start Amazon, saying his idea was "probably a better idea for someone who doesn't have a good job." When asked, Walt Disney's brother (and business partner) Roy tried to talk him out of making Snow White. When asked, Warren Buffett's father told him it was a bad time to enter the securities industry. Hold that thought.

The resumption of the fall season is a boost to the national psyche.

By The WSJ Editorial Board Whether or not you like college football, there’s reason to cheer the decision this week by the last two major conferences to play the 2020 fall season. It’s one more sign that Americans are learning to live with the coronavirus rather than surrender to it.

By Mark Schlabach, ESPN

The NCAA Division I Council on Wednesday approved a measure that will prohibit Division I student-athletes from practicing and competing on the first Tuesday after Nov. 1 every year to allow them to vote in elections or participate in other civic activities. The Division I Student-Athlete Advisory Committee proposed the legislation, and it will start with the upcoming Election Day on Nov. 3. It was the first time the SAAC proposed legislation since Division I governance was changed in 2014 to give student-athletes voting rights at every level of decision-making, according to the NCAA. Several Division I schools, including Georgia Tech, Gonzaga, Oregon and USC, said they were already canceling athletics activities on Nov. 3 to allow their student-athletes to vote.

By Heather Mongilio, Capital Gazette

Plebe year was difficult for retired Rear Adm. James McNeal. It was for everyone in the class of 1986. Now, the only thing standing in the way of the end of plebe year was a gray obelisk. The Herndon Monument. “I immediately jumped into the mix,” McNeal said.


And Finally...

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